Archive for the Amazon Preservation Category

Jirau hydroelectric dam on the Madeira River. “DESTROYING OUR RAIN FORREST!”

Posted in Amazon Preservation on January 26, 2010 by Listen Recovery

In Brief
Despite opposition from the local populations and harsh criticism from Brazilian, Bolivian and Peruvian civil societies and the relevant environmental authorities, the company GDF Suez, partially owned by the French government, is heavily involved in the construction of the Jirau hydroelectric dam on the Madeira River. The mammoth Brazilian project will cause devastating problems: several thousand indigenous residents are expected be displaced, and large areas of the forest will be cleared. The river and the developed area will be poisoned with mercury. An increase of species loss of fish and of malaria cases are almost guaranteed. On top of all this, GDF Suez also violates Brazilian and international labor laws. Thanks to ruthless political lobbying, the energy giant has infringed on the current labor law and provided no minimal guarantees on social and environmental issues. Due to all this, GDF Suez has fueled political tensions are between the local peoples and the central government on the one hand, and between affected countries as well.

Irresponsible Corporate Behavior

The French energy concern GDF Suez is – via its subsidiary Tractebel Energia – the driving force in the construction of the Jirau hydroelectric dam on the Brazilian Amazon tributary Madeira River. Construction of the mega-project is going on night and day, with a planned start of operation in 2013. Because of its majority holding of 50.1 percent, GDF Suez has primary responsibility for the environmental and social problems connected to the project. Civil society protests in Brazil, Bolivia and Peru have so far been ignored, and dialog with the local population has been systematically refused. To push through the project on the political level, the company exerted massive pressure on Brazilian environmental agencies. As a result, the agencies granted legally questionable partial licenses, resulting in numerous technology specialists within the agency to come out against the licenses. GDF Suez also conducts scandalous greenwashing and deliberately hides in its environmental report the massive direct and indirect impacts that the power plant construction will have on neighboring countries Bolivia and Peru, as well as on the indigenous peoples on both sides of the border. Not even minimal guarantees are given to the local population. Important questions about infrastructure are also systematically ignored by GDF Suez. Consequently, the company infringes on a variety of internationally-recognized and compulsory environmental principles, which is leading to constantly-increasing political tension between the affected countries.


The people living on the Madeira River are facing a threat to their existence because of the dam construction. For example, the migratory routes of fish from which the people live will change dramatically. The river and surrounding areas will be contaminated with mercury, and large areas of virgin forest will be cleared. As a result, the people living near the river will no longer have access to the fishery and water routes necessary for their survival. And the company has no plans to address the increased spread of malaria caused by the dam. GDF Suez also violates Brazilian and international labor law: Multiple cases of inhumane working conditions are already documented. Violations against environmental standards, tolerated by Brazil because of political pressure, provoked official protests in neighboring Bolivia. So far the Brazilian government has not responded to the protests. In short, the tensions in the region are increasing due to the ruthlessly-implemented commercial interests of a French energy concern.

Current Status and Demands
The nominating organizations call on GDF Suez to immediately and unconditionally withdraw from the construction of the Jirau hydroelectric dam on the Madeira River.

Further Information

Los in Civilization: THE ACRE TRIBE of THE AMAZON (Brazil/Peru)

Posted in Amazon Preservation, Brasil, Listen Recovery, movie (cultural) international, new blog intro, Peru, South America on January 3, 2010 by Listen Recovery

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Uncontacted Indians of the Envira who are in the Terra Indigena Kampa e Isolados do Envira, Acre state, Brazil. These Indians live in six different places, each community has six communal houses.

Brazil’s government agreed to release stunning photos of Amazon Indians firing arrows at an airplane so that the world can better understand the threats facing one of the few tribes still living in near-total isolation from civilization, officials said Friday.

Anthropologists have known about the group for some 20 years but released the images now to call attention to fast-encroaching development near the Indians’ home in the dense jungles near Peru.

“We put the photos out because if things continue the way they are going, these people are going to disappear,” said Jose Carlos Meirelles, who coordinates government efforts to protect four “uncontacted” tribes for Brazil’s National Indian Foundation.

Shot in late April and early May, the foundation’s photos show about a dozen Indians, mostly naked and painted red, wielding bows and arrows outside six grass-thatched huts.

Meirelles told The Associated Press in a phone interview that anthropologists know next to nothing about the group, but suspect it is related to the Tano and Aruak tribes.

Brazil’s National Indian Foundation believes there may be as many as 68 “uncontacted” groups around Brazil, although only 24 have been officially confirmed.

Anthropologists say almost all of these tribes know about western civilization and have sporadic contact with prospectors, rubber tappers and loggers, but choose to turn their backs on civilization, usually because they have been attacked.

“It’s a choice they made to remain isolated or maintain only occasional contacts, but these tribes usually obtain some modern goods through trading with other Indians,” said Bernardo Beronde, an anthropologist who works in the region

Brazilian officials once tried to contact such groups. Now they try to protectively isolate them.

The four tribes monitored by Meirelles include perhaps 500 people who roam over an area of about 1.6 million acres (630,000 hectares).

He said that over the 20 years he has been working in the area, the number of “malocas,” or grass-roofed huts, has doubled, suggesting that the policy of isolation is working and that populations are growing.

Remaining isolated, however, gets more complicated by the day.

Loggers are closing in on the Indians’ homeland — Brazil’s environmental protection agency said Friday it had shut down 28 illegal sawmills in Acre state, where these tribes are located. And logging on the Peruvian border has sent many Indians fleeing into Brazil, Meirelles said.

“On the Brazilian side we don’t have logging yet, but I’d like to emphasize the ‘yet,’” he said.

A new road being paved from Peru into Acre will likely bring in hordes of poor settlers. Other Amazon roads have led to 30 miles (50 kilometers) of rain forest being cut down on each side, scientists say.

While “uncontacted” Indians often respond violently to contact — Meirelles caught an arrow in the face from some of the same Indians in 2004 — the greater threat is to the Indians.

“First contact is often completely catastrophic for “uncontacted” tribes. It’s not unusual for 50 percent of the tribe to die in months after first contact,” said Miriam Ross, a campaigner with the Indian rights group Survival International. “They don’t generally have immunity to diseases common to outside society. Colds and flu that aren’t usually fatal to us can completely wipe them out.”

Survival International estimates about 100 tribes worldwide have chosen to avoid contact, but said the only truly uncontacted tribe is the Sentinelese, who live on North Sentinel island off the coast of India and shoot arrows at anyone who comes near.

Last year, the Metyktire tribe, with about 87 members, was discovered in a densely jungled portion of the 12.1-million-acre (4.9-million-hectare) Menkregnoti Indian reservation in the Brazilian Amazon, when two of its members showed up at another tribe’s village.

More than half the world’s 100 uncontacted tribes live in Brazil or Peru and campaigners say many face

threats to their land from illegal logging.